Top 5 scams that trick even the savviest people
You’re a digital native. You’ve grown up online – seamlessly navigating multiple screens, systems and platforms. You get how it all works. And you probably think you’ve got it covered when it comes to protecting yourself online – but that’s exactly why you might be at risk when it comes to scams.
Scammers are becoming more and more crafty, especially in the last couple of years. As technology evolves and becomes more advanced, so do scammers, finding new ways to steal our hard-earned cash. The avenues they use are ever-changing (and pretty sophisticated), so you’ve got to stay vigilant and alert.
Let’s take a look at some of the more difficult to spot scams going around – and how you can protect yourself and your money.
What you’ll learn
- Fake parcel delivery message scam
- Fake investment scams
- False billing scams or payment redirection scams
- Online shopping scams
- Online dating scams
1. Fake parcel delivery message scam
Developed a bit of an online shopping addiction during lockdown? No judgement here. There wasn’t much else to do but scour your fave online retailers and wait for the postman to come. But with this trend came the rise of the fake parcel delivery scam.
With more and more people expecting parcel deliveries, scammers took advantage of this and sent out fake delivery messages. The emails and texts include a link prompting you to input your personal information to get an update on your delivery. While some scam texts are easy to spot – misspelt words and poor grammar – some can look pretty slick, appearing to be from a reputable service like Australia Post, Amazon or DHL. However, it’s likely a malicious software link, designed to steal your banking and personal details without you knowing.
These delivery scams play into ‘parcel anxiety’ - when you’ve ordered something online and you’re anxiously waiting for shipping updates. Scammers take advantage of the situation, knowing that you’re likely to fall for the trap: after all, you are eagerly waiting on an update on your delivery.
The best thing you can do in this situation is not click the link – even if the message looks legit. You can also reach out to the retailer directly to confirm that your parcel is still making its way to you. If you did click the link and think you might have been scammed, the best thing you can do is reach out to your bank immediately so they can try to help. If you bank with Westpac, you can give yourself an added layer of protection by downloading software like McAfee or Trusteer.
2. Fake investment scams
We've all got that mate who swears they know someone who ‘got rich off crypto’. A heap of cash for very little effort – sounds pretty awesome, right? But it’s important to keep our wits about us when thinking about investing. With more and more millennials turning their attention to investing – scammers have put two and two together and started targeting young people.
An investment scam is where scammers convince you to invest in so-called ‘high-return, low risk’ investments – things like shares, cryptocurrencies, NFTs and even betting syndicates. They often look legit, posing as bankers, stockbrokers or financial planners – and even have professional looking websites, apps or documents (but are actually completely fake). These fake websites could even include stolen logos and a stolen Australian Business number (ABN).
They will often pop-up out of the blue (think email, text, even sliding into your Instagram DMs) and put the pressure on by saying the offer is time-sensitive, making you feel like you’re going to miss out on a big opportunity to get rich quick or even suggest you get your friends and family on board to make more money. These tactics play into the peer pressure and “FOMO”-mentality we sometimes feel. In some cases, they might even string you along by showing that you’ve made a profit, then encourage you to invest even more money before ultimately ghosting you.
Fallen for an investment scam? Don’t be too hard on yourself. It can happen to the best of us. But the very first thing you should do is reach out to your bank or financial institution. At Westpac, we have a team of scam experts on-hand and ready to help, so don’t hesitate to contact us as soon as you think you might have been scammed or lost money. We’ll do everything we can to help.
Always try to keep in mind: if it sounds too good to be true - it most likely is.
3. False billing scams or payment redirection scams
Let us paint a picture for you. You’ve found your dream home and you’ve reached settlement. You’ve got $100k in your hot little hands ready to hand over as the deposit. Your real estate agent sends you an email with the details of where you need to send the money – and you hit send. But they never receive your money...
Nightmare scenario, right? This type of scam is known as a false billing or payment redirection scam. They’re sophisticated, scary – and can have big financial consequences for businesses and individuals.
Sometimes called a business email compromise (BEC) scam, they often target people involved in transfers of large sums of money – like conveyancing firms, law firms, construction companies and real estates – but anyone can be targeted. Either the sender or receiver has had their security compromised, meaning the email you receive with the bank details for payment will look legit – but the scammer has actually changed the account details to theirs and essentially redirected the funds.
This scam is extra sneaky because the payee most likely trusts the business and is expecting the email, but they may not have a payment history with bank details to check against. Scammers sometimes even get hold of original documents you have seen or signed and attach them to the email – adding to the credibility and making it harder for you to spot the scam.
To avoid your hard-earned cash winding up in a scammer's bank account, it’s best to play it safe. One thing you can do to protect yourself is call the sender directly to verbally confirm their bank details before you make a payment – a small amount of effort for big peace of mind.
We recommend you ask to pay using a PayID. You'll type the business’ PayID into the payment field (instead of their BSB and account number), and the business’ display name pops up so you can confirm you're paying the right person before hitting send. If the display name doesn’t match the person or business you’re intending to pay, this might be suss transaction!
4. Online shopping scams
What’s not to love about online shopping? Anything your heart desires delivered straight to your door with the tap of a finger. But as we spend more time (and money) online than ever, those annoying scammers are finding new ways to ruin your day.
Online shopping scams can come in heaps of different forms – but the result is often the same. As a buyer, you may be tricked into paying for a product or service that may not exist or is never delivered. Some scammers create social media ads that lead to fake websites that look like genuine online stores to target unsuspecting shoppers, selling products at super low prices. If you do decide to buy something, you’ll often receive a fake item or nothing at all. Remember: if it looks too good to be true – it most likely is.
There are also fake ads on classified websites (like Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace) selling cars, furniture, phones – even puppies! You’ll send through the funds, then the seller will go quiet and you won’t be able to reach them.
When buying and selling online, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself safe. Westpac’s Digital Card has a dynamic CVC, which means the 3-digit code on the back changes every 24 hours, making it hard for criminals to steal and re-use your details online. You can also set up and use PayID when sending and receiving funds online.
Looking for more online shopping security tips? You can find more here.
5. Online dating scams
If you think romance scammers only target oldies who don’t really know how to use a computer – think again. Young people aged between 25 and 34 years old are the second largest group impacted by online dating scams and they lost the most money as a result – according to Scam Watch, a massive $7.3 million dollars in 2021!
Tinder, Bumble and Hinge are all great ways to put yourself out there and meet someone new – but you need to be careful when mingling with people you don’t know online. Online dating scams are on the rise and we’d hate for you to be the Tinder Swindler’s next target.
Dating or romance scams involve meeting someone via social media, a dating app or even email – then the scammer will pretend to have strong feelings for you and try to gain your trust over time. They tend to pull on your heart strings, playing on emotional triggers so they can convince you to send money, gifts or personal details. They might even try to get background information on you and use this to their advantage, pretending to have similar interests or things in common with you, hoping that you’ll fall for their love trap. You’d be surprised at just how long some scammers build a loving, trusting relationship with their target. Sometimes months – even years!
If you bank with Westpac, your accounts are in good hands. Our security never sleeps . We run real-time checks on your account and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. So if something doesn’t look right, we’ll reach out and double check everything is good in your world. And remember: never share your sign in details or security codes with anyone.
We’ve got your back
When it comes to scams – keeping your money safe is our top priority. But we also need you to be vigilant and on guard as well: here are some things that you can do to protect yourself from scams:
- Explore our Security Hub - there are plenty of hints and tips so you can stay safe online, including a scam quiz to test your knowledge
- Educate yourself on the types of scams out there – the best defence is knowledge
- Take the Security Wellbeing Check – make sure you have added protection when banking
- Report a scam – if you think you’ve been scammed, chat to Red (our clever virtual assistant) and work out your next steps
- Use PayID – confirming the payee name could save you a lot of money in the long run!
- Use Westpac’s Digital Card - the dynamic CVC refreshes every 24 hours, helping to keep your details safe
Things you should know
This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness of the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.
Credit provided by Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.